Gesher (archaeological site)
|Location||12 kilometres (7.5 mi) South of the Sea of Galilee|
|Area||18 square metres (190 sq ft) (excavated by Garfinkel)|
|Founded||c. 8000 BC|
|Abandoned||c. 8000 BC|
Gesher is an archaeological site located on the southern bank of Nahal Tavor, near kibbutz Gesher in the central Jordan Valley of Israel. It bears signs of occupation from two periods, the very early Neolithic and the Middle Bronze Age. The site was first excavated between 1986 and 1987 by Yosef Garfinkel of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and between 2002 and 2004 by Susan Cohen of Montana State University. The average of 4 Radiocarbon dating results suggested inhabitation of the settlement around 8000 BC.
During the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A the site was a small village composed of a few rounded structures. Typical flint finds included a high number of el-Khiam points which Garfinkel argued, along with the relatively early date could class Gesher as a Khiamian site. One outstanding discovery, unknown from any other Neolithic site of the period in the Near East, is a workshop for the production of basalt artifacts. The workshop produced basalt axes and various other tools which were then sent to other early Neolithic centers, such as Jericho and Netiv Hagdud. According to radiometric dates, Gesher is one of the earliest Neolithic sites in the Near East. During this period the first villages were established and the transition to agriculture occurred. A final excavation report on the Neolithic site was published in 2006.
During the Middle Bronze Age IIA, Gesher served as a cemetery. Some 20 graves have been uncovered. These are shaft graves, dug into the local sediment, used for individual burials and never reopened. This facilitates the study of burial customs, including body position, the quantity of grave goods and their relation to the deceased. Bronze spearheads and axes (including three duck-bill axes) were found in four of the graves. A final excavation report on the Middle Bronze cemetery was published in 2007.
Calibrated Carbon 14 dates for Gesher as of 2013.
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